SharePoint is a web application platform created by Microsoft. It is considered to be one of the most productive frameworks created by Microsoft in the last decade. SharePoint provides us the following feature support.
It provides us the following features:
· Mobile Support
· Document Management
· Content Management
· Enterprise Search
· Excel Services
· Business Intelligence
· Visio Service
The SharePoint versions will be similar to that of office like SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010 etc. SharePoint started as a document sharing framework for Microsoft Office so that people can share their Word, Excel, PowerPoint documents. Later more features and extensibility was provided and SharePoint evolved as a highly productive component in the Microsoft Products Arena.
The latest version available is SharePoint 2010.
Advantages of SharePoint
So anybody could raise the question of Why SharePoint instead of ASP.NET or other frameworks?
For IT Professionals, SharePoint allows us to create websites rapidly. It provides faster site creation with lots of inbuilt features like Content Management, Collaboration etc. These all possible at the cost of learning the skill: Administration of SharePoint.
For Developers, SharePoint provides extensibility through programming. The SharePoint Object Model, WebParts etc. provides excellent start to developers in extending the features of SharePoint. Developers can take advantage of the inbuilt features extension like Document Management, Search etc. The skill for attaining these would be: Programming SharePoint.
SharePoint is one of the technologies where Administration and Programming (IT Professionals and Developers) are of core importance.
If you are an Administrator then you can survive without Programming skills. But if you are a developer you need both the Administration and Programming skills.
As an example for creating a CRUD list in ASP.NET takes 8 hours of programming at least. In SharePoint we can achieve the same in just 5 minutes with high flexibility in extensibility.
One of the major architectural changes in SharePoint 2010 is that Shared Services Provider no longer exists. Now the services configuration is more flexible and we can add our own services to the platform called as Service Applications. We can share the same service application across the farm and SharePoint provides instance management.
Services can be remotely managed and Central Administration provides this facility. There is a Default Group for services and all services are thus accessible to the entire farm as shown in the figure below.
Following are the important tools that could be used along with SharePoint to increase the productivity.
· Visual Studio
· SharePoint Designer
· Windows PowerShell
Visual Studio provides developer productivity through web part creation, custom content type addition, workflow creation, event listeners, deployment etc.
SharePoint Designer helps in page layout, creating workflows, file management, workflow management etc.
Windows PowerShell helps with automating tasks like site deployment, site backup and restore through scripts.
Following are the editions of SharePoint 2010 available.
Basic Free Edition having document management and collaboration features.
SharePoint Server Standard
Built on top of SharePoint Foundation and includes business level functionalities.
SharePoint Server Enterprise
Built on top of Standard edition and targets large enterprises.
It is worth to know how SharePoint integrates with IIS (Internet Information Services). There are two modes of working for SharePoint:
· Classic Mode supported by ISAPI (older IIS Versions)
· Integrated Mode supported by Http Modules (ISS 7)
In the Integrated mode a particular Http Module will be configured for each SharePoint web application and it handles the HTTP requests to provide SharePoint rendering.
Following are some of the hosting providers in SharePoint. Depending on the usage, the prices vary from $ 100 per year.
Additionally, Office 365 (new cloud member) supports SharePoint deployment as cloud enabled. Here higher productivity is possible by concentrating just on the application logic instead of configuring servers, setting up farm etc. SharePoint 2010 is supported and the billing will be on usage basis.
In this article we have seen a quick introduction to SharePoint, history, editions, versions, features. In the next article we will proceed with Installation.