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Cracking Open the SharePoint Fortress 275

Posted by timothy
from the file-formats-rule-the-world dept.
dreemteem writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld UK:"SharePoint is a brilliant success, for a couple of reasons. In a way, it's Microsoft's answer to GNU/Linux: cheap and simple enough for departments to install without needing to ask permission, it has proliferated almost unnoticed through enterprises to such an extent that last year SharePoint Sales were $1.3 billion. But as well as being one of Microsoft's few new billion-dollar hits, it has one other key characteristic, hinted at in the Wikipedia entry above: it offers an effortless way for people to put content into the system, but makes it very hard to get it out because of its proprietary lock-in. This makes it a very real threat to open source. For example, all of the gains made in the field of open document standards — notably with ODF — are nullified if a company's content is trapped inside SharePoint." The article offers a slice of hope for getting around that, though, in the form of a new API for Google Sites which can slurp the data back out.
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Cracking Open the SharePoint Fortress

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  • Just wondering... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msh104 (620136) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:46AM (#29579649)

    How is this story "hardware" related.

    • by Akido37 (1473009) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:51AM (#29579705)
      Can't you read? SharePoint is a FORTRESS.
      • by nkh (750837)
        I don't get it, Fortress was supposed to be Sun's new programming language, the alternative to Fortran. How is SharePoint related to Fortran?
  • by Necroloth (1512791) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:47AM (#29579661)
    I work for a well known automotive company and as you all know, this industry has been pretty well battered during the recession. Auto companies have looked at all sorts of possibilities to reduce costs and mine has decided to move to Google and migrate away from Exchange, Sharepoint etc.

    In times of financial troubles, companies look to alternatives but they need to be trusted known brands

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nickodeimus (1263214)
      Yeah, because moving away from an area where you've already invested in talent saves money.... during a recession, no less. That's great business planning by people who clearly do not know the the costs of HR and the new hire process specifically.
  • Editing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Uhh, which Wikipedia entry above?

  • by msh104 (620136) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:51AM (#29579711)

    So... in order to break the microsoft lockin you use an api that is only availible to google users only.
    Sound a bit like "Free, More Free and Locked in... Again..." to me...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      Not really... at least once you shake it out into Google, you can then move it one more hop into something usable and open.

      Google's API is merely the means, not the end.

      • by ElSupreme (1217088) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:21AM (#29580097)
        Yeah but google gets to read it after you extract it. I would rather have my company trade secrets in my company.
        • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:36AM (#29581153)
          Don't worry. Your sensitive data is stricty a secret between you and Google's marketing division. And their shareholders and strategic partners.
    • I'd expect an API that provides Access to my data NOT to be usable by anyone without some kind of authentification.

  • bah, sharepoint. (Score:5, Informative)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:53AM (#29579723)

    Its great news if *anything* can rescue us from the horror that is Sharepoint.

    I've never used a worse CMS system (which is what everyone pretends it is) when really its an online document repository. Don't even start me of Infopath documents being put in there to pretend to give it a forms engine. Its hell.

    Thing is, I'm not entirely sure why all the myriad sharepoint sites that have sprung up at our company are so useless, I think its because its so easy to drop another document into another list that you end up with a sprawl of almost-related data, that's then impossible to find. Our admin did try to say that he'd put the search functionality on so it should be easier to find things... but when I searched for one document I received several thousand hits back!

    Alternatively it could be because every department has their own sharepoint site, that no-one knows which one to look in for data, so they don't bother using it.

    In any case, all the sharepoints here are crap, even the one the admin spent a lot of time on to give it a good sense of organisation.

    • Re:bah, sharepoint. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:04AM (#29579875)

      The Search is one of the biggest and most important features of SharePoint. If your admin had a clue, he/she would have set it up in the beginning with appropriate IFilters for all of the documents being uploaded. With that and proper meta tagging rules for document uploads, it really doesn't matter where it is inside SharePoint, as long as it's there. There are also 3rd party add-ins (BA Insight's Longitude, for example) that expand the capabilities of search.

      The problems at your organization sound like bad planning on the part of whoever oversaw the implementation. The tools are there (and believe it or not, they are good tools, which is one of the reasons why SP is so popular), it's just easy to end up with a mess when the people setting it up have no idea what they're doing.

      • The impression I got from just the crap summary was that Sharepoint is idiot easy to install without any planning. This means depending on the individual who sets it up, it'll either work wonderfully for you by enforcing proper tagging and indexing rules or it'll become a pit that simply costs money because you can't find anything important with it.

        This is a classic example of Pick any two:

        • cheap
        • fast
        • works
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Search is one of the biggest and most important features of SharePoint. If your admin had a clue, he/she would have set it up in the beginning with appropriate IFilters for all of the documents being uploaded.

        If by adding appropriate iFilters you mean adding the PDF one, I think most admins get to that. If you mean actually supporting all the file types in use today (especially in an office that is not just using Microsoft products) I'd like to ask "are there such things and how much do they cost?" Last time I looked, there wasn't even an iFilter for MS Publisher, let alone anything from Adobe other than PDF. No Lotus or EPS or Quark or Framemaker or really anything useful. I don't think there were even OpenOffi

    • by nkh (750837) <exochickenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:07AM (#29579919) Journal

      I've never used a worse CMS system

      Me neither, but I kinda like the way SharePoint spits random pages in Italian sometimes, it's like I'm a member of the Cosa Nostra or something :D

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:10AM (#29579973) Journal

      Don't even start me of Infopath documents being put in there to pretend to give it a forms engine. Its hell.

      Worse than hell, really... and not very secure. Our purchase req's at work use it, and I doubt the doc author would know what I was talking about if I asked her whether she sanitized her inputs or not (for example, I can give my own PR's authorization all the way to the VP of finance if I wanted to... and they rely on the damned thing now).

      As for the rest? Dude, I'd give it every mod point I'd ever see for the next year if I could. I'm guessing it's your latter reason (too much diaspora, with little to hold it together) that explains why few people use it. A good web designer can overcome that very easily, but unfortunately? A good web designer and a good SharePoint developer are apparently almost never the same human being (hell, our SP "developer" gets lost in an Event Log... how am I supposed to help explain the basics of CSS to the guy?)

      PS: The search function is pure hell to get working right, if at all. The consultant who put ours together actually knew what he was doing, and SP search still works only half-assed, so don't feel too badly about it.

      • Re:bah, sharepoint. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SenFo (761716) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:50AM (#29580555) Homepage

        A good web designer and a good SharePoint developer are apparently almost never the same human being (hell, our SP "developer" gets lost in an Event Log... how am I supposed to help explain the basics of CSS to the guy?)

        PS: The search function is pure hell to get working right, if at all. The consultant who put ours together actually knew what he was doing, and SP search still works only half-assed, so don't feel too badly about it.

        You couldn't have been more accurate. 49 out of every 50 SharePoint "developers" I have talked to or interviewed are far from designers or software engineers. It's as if they were attracted to SharePoint because they were unable to make it in the real software development world. Not that this would necessarily be a problem, but SharePoint is one of the most difficult platforms I have ever had the unfortunate experience to program against. While these "developers" are busy building InfoPath forms and exposing tons of meaningless columns to interface with the workflow engine (they often use WF to overcome the fact that InfoPath is NOT a development platform), it's my job to interface the pile of mess with other COTS products by building convoluted ETL processes. The unfortunate truth of the whole situation is that the senior technical staff (e.g., CTO) fails to see the flaws that SharePoint brings. They focus their energy entirely on common CMS features, such as how easy it is to enable search and create a new page. If you dare suggest an alternative, you'll find yourself amongst the other outcasts --lonely, frustrated and unheard.

        SharePoint is, by far, the most hideous platform I know of. It makes me long for the days of hacking HTML to make it render correctly in IE6.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by gbjbaanb (229885)

          it's my job to interface the pile of mess with other COTS products by building convoluted ETL processes

          Oh man, I feel for you, I really do.

        • Re:bah, sharepoint. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by BlindSpot (512363) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @01:07PM (#29582427)

          Definitely... I do .NET and after one experience with SharePoint I personally won't go near again, and I know several other decent-or-better developers who feel the same way. If it comes up during a job description or even an interview I will immediately stop and say "I'm afraid I don't do Sharepoint" and look for another contract. Even in this economy.

          The worst part is that Sharepoint jobs actually pay a strong premium over standard .NET development because it's such a big mess and because so few people will actually touch it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Slashdot is just doing its part to publish astroturfing. MS Sharepoint is a failure [boycottnovell.com] wherever it is deployed. Here are the CRM packages MS is trying out shout:

      O3Spaces [o3spaces.org]

      Lenya [apache.org]

      SugardCRM [sugarforge.org]

      Alfresco [alfresco.com]

      Main pyrus [mainpyrus.org]

      Nuxeo [nuxeo.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Inda (580031)
      We had the same searching problems at our company with Shitpoint.

      So we spent more money on an excellent 3rd Party search engine.

      They'll be sending us all on expensive FrontPage courses next... On wait, they did that already. I got a certificate btw. I can now program web sites. I can even write forms :p
    • Its great news if *anything* can rescue us from the horror that is Sharepoint.

      I've never used a worse CMS system (which is what everyone pretends it is) when really its an online document repository.

      So true. The search capability makes share point useless to me as a CMS. I put in a search term and end up with a thousand results, none of which is at all relevant to the question I'm trying to answer.

  • Sharepoint is cheap? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:54AM (#29579747) Homepage Journal

    It requires considerably more iron to run it than Wiki software, and the software licenses are very expensive.

    We invested initially in Sharepoint, but can't afford to roll it out for the entire company.

    Cheap is the last word I'd use to describe Sharepoint.

    Depending on how and what you use Sharepoint for, companies should consider looking at MediaWiki and/or Alfresco for document storage, indexing, processing, sharing, etc.

    • IIRC, the license key was nearly a universal one for the longest time...

      (not advocating anyone actually putting that info to nefarious use or anything - just sayin' is all...)

    • by cdrudge (68377) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:27AM (#29580177) Homepage

      I think it depends on what flavor of SharePoint you are using. Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS) is licensed as part of Windows Server, so you aren't paying extra for something that you may already have. Microsoft Office Sharepoint Systems (MOSS) is licensed separately can the costs can very rapidly grow to very large numbers for larger enterprises depending on what features are desired or how the farm is laid out.

  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:54AM (#29579751) Homepage Journal
    This is such an awful piece of software, especially for people who use a non-IE browser, essentially making this even more worthless for non Windows desktops.  I'm asked for my security credentials every other click or so, and even when it is correct, sometimes it will just keep asking and asking (and yes, in Firefox I added the url to my network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris).  The wiki software is just atrocious with the syntax being completely unintuitive.  The only way to really use the wiki is... yep, to use IE and the built in rich text editor.  Just check out some of the code generated from it:

    <div class=ExternalClassD18714056AE54C4288E018C6231AEF4A>
    <div align=center><strong><font size=4>Welcome to&nbsp;My Group&nbsp;wiki site!</font></strong></div><strong><font size=3></font></strong></div>
    <div class=ExternalClassD18714056AE54C4288E018C6231AEF4A><strong><font size=3></font></strong>&nbsp;</div>
    <div class=ExternalClassD18714056AE54C4288E018C6231AEF4A>
    <div align=left><font size=3></font><font size=2>Welcome to the Department Wiki. Remember, this is your wiki, so please don't hesitate to add and/or enhance existing pages, and fix mistakes or errors.</font></div><font size=2></font></div><br>
    <h1><font size=5>Starting Points</font></h1>
    • by smartin (942) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:12AM (#29579989)

      I'll second that. Give me a mediawiki for collaboration and content, and a subversion repository for document storage and i'm happy. Shitepoint is just another crappy M$ product that is a pain to use and tries to lock you to their other crappy products.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      sounds like your install of sharepoint is your problem. We have thosands of users, have no problems with permissions, finding data with search, and it works great in firefox. It was easy to implement and cheap given that users needed almost zero training and the hardware it required was very low (For a server which is all that is ever allowed in our datacenters)

  • Uhm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <<richardprice> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:54AM (#29579753)
    Getting content out of SharePoint is blindingly trivial - the web services provided allow you to access all saved versions of documents in document libraries (including wiki pages et al), all user information and all list items.

    Grab the information from the web services and do whatever you wish with the resulting data - its neither hard nor hidden, so this story is pointless.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. How do you think Google was able to access the supposed FORTRESS of data that was locked inside of Sharepoint? They read the manuals!! http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint

      I'd be curious how soon Google will allow you to extract your documents from Google Docs back into your Wiki...which, btw, is it's own form of fortress depending on which vendor you go with.

    • Re:Uhm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:33PM (#29581961) Journal
      Thank you, I was beginning to think I was the only one here who had ever tried to pull data out of SharePoint. While I'll agree with many of the posters in this thread that SharePoint can be as much trouble as a help, the idea that it is some vendor lock-in fortress is just stupid.
      Hell, you can drag and drop your files out of a document library using Windows Explorer, this is hard? Or, for single items, left-click the down arrow, click Send To, click Download a copy, fuck this is hard! BTW, this even works in FireFox, though you do have to disable NoScript, which I guess can be hard if you have a room temperature IQ.

      Oh ya, and as someone else has already pointed out, you could always dig into the SDK [microsoft.com] and write programs against it to move data in and out.

      But yes, SharePoint is a fortress which eats your data, pollutes the environment, and kicks puppy dogs.



      Come on guys, MS's software has enough problems, without us making shit up.
  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:56AM (#29579793)
    Even if google were only being proposed as a bridge to other formats it's just too much trust to ask for sensitive and classified documents to be moved through servers at a company we don't control.
    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      And yet some companies (presumably the smaller ones) are willing to use Google Apps for their emails. Personally, I never understood that for exactly the reasons you mention.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        Companies have been outsourcing the processing of enormous amounts of vital, confidential information for time immemorial.

        Lots of companies outsource HR, payroll, legal, some aspects of accounting, bookkeeping and IT. Indeed, entire industries exist based around the idea that most companies don't really need someone who understands HR law|accounting|IT on staff for 37.5 hours/week.

        An inevitable side-effect of this is that vitally important, incredibly confidential information is already held by outside org

    • by corbettw (214229)

      That sounds like it came from a clueful CEO. Most of the ones I've met would respond with "Google? I use them all the time, let's do it."

  • We have Share Point here at my office but my team doesn't use it because it is so hard to navigate. It is extremely difficult to figure out where you just posted something if you happen to stumble back to the main landing page. I'm shocked to hear that anyone considers that package a "success". I, for one, will not be giving up on any OS tools / apps for SP.
  • How hard is it? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:05AM (#29579887) Homepage

    What is this lock in? I RTFA and skimmed the linked wikipedia article, and couldn't find any details.

    Everything in SharePoint is a list in the database. A calendar is just a list of events with start and end times. A address book is a list of contacts. All you need is some basic SQL, and your information is free.

    Documents are also in the database as binary objects. Pulling them out and saving to the local file system can be an exercise for your intern or first year programmer.

    The API for SharePoint is fairly well documented. If you wanted to migrate a site from SharePoint to another platform, recreating the look and feel may be a challenge--likely depending on your design skills--but getting your data out will not be.

    • by Inda (580031)
      Documents can also be located via a netwrok address and act pretty much like a physical harddrive. I use a batch file; hardly a first year programmers job (or are they that stupid these days?)

      I hate Shitpoint and everything it does. Teaching people a little HTML would be cheaper and easier.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SenFo (761716)

      Everything in SharePoint is a list in the database. A calendar is just a list of events with start and end times. A address book is a list of contacts. All you need is some basic SQL, and your information is free.

      Complete nonsense. Sure, SharePoint stores List content inside of a database, but it's stored as XML, making parsing a royal pain, not to mention it makes referential integrity among Lists impossible. Lookup lists have very loosely been implemented. Nobody in their right mind would work with SharePoint directly at the database level. Nor is it supported by MS. This is why a public API has been exposed.

      • Re:How hard is it? (Score:4, Informative)

        by iamhigh (1252742) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:40PM (#29582085)
        Thank you... apparently the GP got modded up by people that have never used SPS/MOSS. If they had, and had tried to access the DB to run a sql query, they would see that it is not a simple task to query that db and get proper results... it's not documented and uses some sort of id system to find things that you will not understand. I have moved into positions and was able to understand the DB and work at that level (with confidence, on production systems far more complicated than what SPS should be) in weeks... sharepoint would take years.

        If you work on web services all day, CAML and XML are second nature to you, and you have quite a bit of experience with MS api's, you might be able to make sharepoint usable from other applications... but many of us in smaller businesses have better stuff to do and would be better served using something open source, or at least where you can reasonably access your data. I wish the management understood that. However the ability to setup sections for each department, and have a project page for every project in a month (but they were all unconnected sites, with no integrity, then users were given access to create their own sites/pages) was too much "Oooh, neat and shiny" for the execs to handle... oh what a mess.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcmonkey (96054)

          Whatever. Yes, it's too hard. Years to understand.

          Only I've done it. And it did take weeks, not years. And I'm not that smart.

          Remember, we're not talking about being able to save changes to the SharePoint database. The database is designed to work on through the app and contains no user serviceable parts.

          In just addressing the issue of lock-in and being able to get your data and documents out of SharePoint, between the API and SQL, there isn't anything you can't get out programmatically.

          If CAML and XML

  • Reverse Engineer (Score:5, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:12AM (#29579993)

    Not that hard to reverse engineer the schema.

    This fellow has open sourced a tool to crack it open:

    http://blog.dreamdevil.com/index.php/2007/03/13/sharepoint_2003_database_exporter/ [dreamdevil.com]

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:15AM (#29580025)

    Back in the day before Sharepoint, as a school assignment for one of my higher level CIS Classes I was tasked with making a CMS where as people could upload (Word) documents to the CMS in the form of Articles.

    The closest I was ever able to get is with an an application called GeekLog. But there was absolutely no automation. I tinkered with the HTML export aspect of Word, it was an absolute abortion. Useless with Geeklog.

    Now that we have linkable libraries for everything under the sun in Linux, I always wondered the following: Why could it not be setup such that so long as an Acceptable format was uploaded (DOC, ODT, WPD, etc) could be parsed into an XHTML 1.0 Compliant article.

    I never could lick that problem.

    Then another problem came up. I needed a way to Authenticate Geeklog against LDAP, and later single sign on with Kerberos.

    I was thinking this all the way back in 2003 and 2004.

    Then, low and behold, I start hearing about the abomination that is: Sharepoint.

    After I heard about I was like "oh damn it. They got write what all these LAMP Stack PHP applications couldn't think of: LDAP, Kerberos, and the ability to turn binary documents into readable searchable articles."

    It was like my worst nightmare come true. GeekLog was a prime example of how Linux developers could have stopped the sharepoint nightmare before it started.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > They got write what all these LAMP Stack PHP applications couldn't think of: LDAP, Kerberos, and the ability to turn binary documents into readable

      A very old idea actually. There were document management products on the market in the mid-90s that did this.

      • I wondered why when Sharepoint was released, in the same manner as Geeklog developed XML-RPC Plugins for Gallery, why they didn't develop XML-RPC Plugins for eGroupware as well. The idea being that eGroupware could integrate with Geeklog the same way it did with Gallery.

    • Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mpapet (761907)

      After I heard about I was like "oh damn it. They got write what all these LAMP Stack PHP applications couldn't think of: LDAP, Kerberos, and the ability to turn binary documents into readable searchable articles."

      My gut feeling is there are some details missing. LDAP and Kerberos are not interdependent. Especially for web applications. However, in Microsoft's world, it is.

      This suggests you were trying, like *many* before and after you, to connect a LAMP stack with a Microsoft identity stack. Microsoft m

  • I'll admit Sharepoint is a success when it works with browsers other than IE. After evangelising the benefits of alternative browsers around our company, I looked distinctly silly when we started rolling out Sharepoint and had to admit everyone had to revert back to IE.

    I would also warn people against believing Microsoft's hype about Sharepoint. It's a good tool for a specific purpose, but it won't solve every problem you have. Make sure YOUR company is suitable for the way Sharepoint works. Don't expect S
    • I'll admit Sharepoint is a success when it works with browsers other than IE.

      It does, partially. To get the full experience, IE and ActiveX are required. But FF, Safari, etc all work on a basic level.
      Apparently, SharePoint 2010 will support FF [msdn.com] natively
      "A standards based browser such as Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8 or Firefox 3.x will be required to author content."
    • Having done a couple of large Sharepoint projects, I think it's an okay platform, and fairly flexible. Many of the complaints I see here aren't so much about Sharepoint per se, but more about lack of planning on the part of the people rolling out the product. If you don't have a plan, Sharepoint (or any other CMS, for that matter) can get out of hand pretty quickly. Sharepoint has a pretty fine grained permissions framework - If people are allowed to put content anywhere, it isn't the fault of the product.
  • There are a lot of organizations that, while sharepoint isn't necessarily the "best answer", it is the only solution that allows for a quick deployment.

    U.S. Government organizations and their contractors would never be allowed to store documents anywhere except within their own infrastructure. I would love to see a "Google Sites" internal deployment option...

  • I used the technique below to get all my list data out. It's pretty easy to extend that to pull out the document blobs from SQL as well:
    http://solitarysoftwareguy.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
  • by gorfie (700458) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:28AM (#29580191)
    Having worked with SharePoint for many years, I do not see how the data is locked in. The documents can be accessed much like a network share. The list data (including the meta data associated with documents) can be exported to Excel or even accessed through web services or through the object model itself.

    And I don't see how it is an explicit threat to ODF because end users can easily store any document type in SharePoint. The only threat is that SharePoint offers integration with Office - but that doesn't prevent people from using ODF, it just encourages usage of Office.

    I'm not suggesting that SharePoint is a good platform, but let's not bash it for locking users in and locking out competing products when it is merely retaining users by being just good enough to keep them content.
  • a "Document Operating System".
  • by Slicker (102588) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:45AM (#29580471)

    Uhm.. Seriously? You are really kidding me.. I mean REALLY? It is not any of those things boasted--not remotely close. I worked with Sharepoint for the last two years, installing, administering, and using for a state university. It is absolutely the most unrecommendable software product I have EVER worked with. It has worked reasonably well (not great) only for one purpose for us: a document repository. Version control only really works when using Microsoft Office 2007. Otherwise, it'll wipe out your version histories.

    (1) Ease of installation -- It's highly complex. You really do need to read the 700 page book Microsoft has to know how to install it. This is because numerous options at install time cannot be changed later except by re-installation. And I mean many numerous options that are very difficult to understand how each relates to the other.. We reinstalled so many times, paid for expensive consulting both with Microsoft and with an outside firm. We still couldn't get it right. The nuances are many and hit you repeatedly often with the only fix being a reinstallation.... and usually rebuilding of content, along with it.

    AND users almost universally hate it. Management fights hard against the wishes of users to implement Sharepoint--not only at our organisation but also at every other organisation I've had to privilege to ask their sysadmins about. Management usually hails its success but on the ground, it's almost universally hated and a disaster. Oh, yes.. Our universities library system also had a successful use of a simple trouble ticket management system... so there were two exceptions. It's also easier to install and administer as a single server than as a farm, but still not so easy and no easier on users.

    I cannot stress enough--the problem with Sharepoint are the many many MANY critical nuances.

    (2) Inexpensive -- No. It's very expensive. The learning curve is quite high so training is really required. In our case, the expense was bundled in with a variety of other software licenses such as that for Exchange. Alone, the license is very expensive--particularly if you want to open it up to outside your organisation's intranet.

    But the real expense is in administration. Both training costs, immense amounts of time spent with it, and dealing with problems ongoing are the highest costs I've ever seen for a server application. Upgrades are also a huge difficulty. They present as opportunities to resolve some former configuration problems but taking advantage thereof often means your data is not restorable.

    Of all the alternative applications I've worked with, "Typo 3" is the most Sharepoint-like, functionally. It is, however, far easier to learn and it is reliable. Sharepoint is reliable only in the sense that its processes keep running--that doesn't mean it doesn't break regularly. The best general purpose CMS I have worked with is definitely Drupal. Drupal lacks some of the capabilities of Sharepoint (presuming those capabilities were actually usable in Sharepoint in any meaningful sense) but has many others.

    The problem is that Sharepoint is not exactly a CMS. It is (and I am speaking in theory--not practice in practical terms) a collaboration environment. There really is a difference. Drupal itself has a learning curve that I don't like. It's more administrator focused and not user focused, as manifested by the fact that you cannot edit things were they are seen by users but rather must work through a back panel. Drupal also lacks a WebDAV document repository and the ability to do things like email in documents and other kinds of content and get email notifications of content or documents modified.

    Drupal is about setting up a classical website for users to use and administrators to administer. Sharepoint (in theory) is about providing a service where users can create their own sites, document and data repositories and means of presenting and sharing the same (via tags and filters). It's about working together within an or

  • by vinn (4370) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:47AM (#29580499) Homepage Journal
    You know, I thought the community would have picked up on this about three years ago when Sharepoint was first getting attention. Microsoft has done something brilliant with Sharepoint: they've managed to tie each of their server and client pieces together in such a way that Sharepoint is the conduit for the information exchange. Want to share MS Project files? Get Sharepoint. Want to have BI reporting or workflows in Dynamics GP? Get Sharepoint. Want to have a Microsoft CRM dashboard? Get Sharepoint. All of this is functionality that should be built into the core products, not a centralized system requiring separate licensing. Sharepoint is the evil glue that is starting to hold things together. I think other proprietary vendors need to wake up and seriously consider whether or not it's worth integrating with this evil beast. Sharepoint locks you very tightly to Microsoft's platforms and it also sets you on a road toward having upgrade difficulties due to how tightly the software is coupled. All in all, it may be too little, too late. Sharepoint is very quickly gaining traction.
  • Sharepoint and Google Docs are different Animals and people tend not to understand that. Microsoft does not run Sharepoint, they sell you Sharepoint and you install it on Windows Servers internally. You can't install Google Docs on your own servers.

    there are a few applications that come close to Sharepoint in the Linux world, like GeekLog and Knowlege tree, but in the Linux world, there is the parasite of unnecessary duplication. Everyone wants to store authentication on MySQL servers. (I'm not knocking MyS

  • Sharepoint lock-in (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you look at deploying MS-Sharepoint, you'll find that you need to have MS-ActiveDirectory, and hence, MS-Windows PCs and CALs. Sharepoint deployments are usually $25K+ for anything beyond a trivial lab deployment.

    OTOH, http://www.alfresco.com/ [alfresco.com] provides similar DMS and CMS capabilities. You can use the free version very easily or pay a $3k for support. It can connect to any LDAP for authentication and authorization. There are no CALs. Alfresco was created by former EMC/Documentum people - they understa

  • Abombination, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:59AM (#29581457) Journal

    While I agree Sharepoint is an abombination, when I've had the misfortune to interact with it (usually, I've needed to do so with various scripts), I found you can actually NET USE Sharepoint as if it were just a normal CIFS drive, and access everything as files.

    I don't see what's difficult about getting your documents out again in bulk.

  • by wwphx (225607) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:00PM (#29581467) Homepage
    They wanted to set up an IT wiki for information sharing (procedures, config info, etc) and were told that a LAMP/WAMP stack with Wikimedia was unacceptable because it was insecure. They tried SharePoint and found that it didn't allow structuring documents or anything remotely resembling the flexibility of ?AMP/Wiki and eventually replaced it with a closed-source system requiring annual licensing and a dedicated developer.

    Her boss finally left, a more flexible one came in, and now all of their old servers have been replaced with *nix with a growing rollout of PostgreSQL and life is much happier there.
  • by emaname (1014225) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @12:51PM (#29582219)
    U.S. Bank picks IBM's Lotus platform over Microsoft's SharePoint

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9138020/U.S._Bank_picks_IBM_s_Lotus_platform_over_Microsoft_s_SharePoint [computerworld.com]
  • by IllForgetMyNickSoonA (748496) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @02:12PM (#29583405)
    Our glorious IT department, guys who just happen to jump to ANYTHING Microsoft releases, moved our intranet to Sharepoint some 6-7 months ago. We are a 1000 man high tech company, producing our own safety critical hardware and software used in civilian and military applications. We have a full-time, large IT department, so we are not just a mom&dad shop who don't know how to turn on the computer.

    Here is our experience with Sharepoint:

    - It's SLOW AS HELL. It is mind-blowingly, unbelievably slow. I have NEVER seen such a slow system in my life!
    - The search function is un-useable, except for poking fun at results. Rating hits in some xls Documents higher than hits on wiki pages - COME ON, MICROSOFT, EVEN YOU CAN'T BE THAT STUPID!
    - Collaboration? Yeah, right - 2 guys from my department worked with 2 other guys in 2 other departments on a document. After 3 days, the damn thing just swallowed the document! No way to roll back, no way to find it (IT also gave up after a few hours of search). It's GONE!
    - The WIKI functionality (editor) is awful. Just awful. It changes the spacing between lines at its' liking. No way to fix it, short of turning to HTML mode and repairing it manually, just to see it f*** up again after the next update!

    I could go on forever, but I guess you get the picture. MS sure does have some fine products, although I despise their business practice. Sharepoint, however, is NOT one of those fine ones!

    OK, I calmed down. Now I go back to work... :-)

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