I’m attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas this week and received the 274-page Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Beta tome in my registration materials yesterday. Due to the 3-hour time difference between Boston and Las Vegas, I woke up early this morning and decided to while away my time by reading it. Based on what it says (note: the book contains the disclaimer, “This is a preliminary document and may be changed substantially prior to final commercial release of the software described herein.”), following are my initial impressions about the differences between SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.
- The UI is friendlier: The 2010 interface includes the Ribbon UI. Hopefully, that will make SharePoint less click-happy. (I’ve always felt SharePoint 2007 makes me click five times to complete a task that should take one click.) In addition, 2010 includes better support for what Microsoft calls “multilingual experiences.” That is, fields within lists can support multiple languages, and users can submit multiple entries (e.g., an English version, a French version, a German version) for a specific piece of content. Also, SharePoint can use rules (e.g., show this paragraph to new workers, show that paragraph to long-time employees) to customize content for users.
- Metadata is now pervasive: Recognizing that good metadata facilities make content easier to classify and search, Microsoft has significantly expanded support for metadata in SharePoint 2010. Examples include: (1) automatically extracting metadata from images, (2) configuring a folder to automatically add tag content with a specific tag (e.g., the folder “Preliminary” adds the tag “stage=Preliminary” to all content stored in that folder, (3) support for folksonomies (user-defined tags), and (4) the addition of the Enterprise Managed Metadata (EMM) service (allows sharing of metadata configurations across sites and farms).
- Support for compound documents: SharePoint 2010 has added the concept of “Document Sets”—that is, an uber document made up of multiple documents. This way, an enterprise can create a product rollout plan that consists of an Excel spreadsheet containing rollout dates, a PowerPoint presentation popularizing those dates, and a Word document describing the rollout stages in detail. By being a Document Set, these documents can be controlled as one logical entity (e.g., versioned as a whole, managed by a workflow as a whole).
- Blogs and wikis are improved: Frankly, given that blog and wiki support was so dismal in 2007, it was impossible for the feature set to go in any direction but up. At a glance, the blog and wiki support looks solid but not ground-breaking.
- Records management and business intelligence are no longer second-class citizens: Both records management and BI showed signs of being add-ons in 2007. In 2010, they’re much more integrated with normal SharePoint usage. For example, rather than records management capabilities being affiliated with a specific site template, a site collection owner can designate which records management features are enabled within that site collection. In the BI case, again, BI is no longer affiliated with a specific site template, but rather a set of capabilities that can be used in any SharePoint site. In 2010, PerformancePoint is no longer a separate product, but rather a service (PerformancePoint Services) residing within SharePoint 2010 (assuming the enterprise buys an enterprise license [ECAL]).
- Web analytics is now included: SharePoint 2010 includes a Web Analytics service so that enterprises can monitor site usage and search terms. For companies drowning in unused sites (e.g., a project site goes live, is used intensively for two months, and then never used again), this capability will be invaluable in helping them clear out the deadwood. In addition, it will help companies understand how their employees are using SharePoint—the first step in optimizing site design, terms, and so on.
- Multi-tenant SharePoint Online will now support custom code: The current version of SharePoint Online comes in two flavors: multi-tenant and hosted. The multi-tenant version (allows no customization) is targeted at SMBs, while the hosted version (allows customization) is for large enterprises. The lack of customization capabilities has been a huge issue, especially with partners that like to customize an installation for their clients. In 2010, Microsoft says it will allow such customization via a mechanism called “Sandboxed Solutions”—basically, process and data isolation.
To be clear, these are not all of the changes that are coming in SharePoint 2010; but they are, at least, some of the interesting ones.