SharePoint choices, choices, choices…

Tech Trek Log – 2010.01.17

As a follow up on the previous blog post, let me expound on the decision points needed to implement workflows. One of the best thing about SharePoint as an application framework is also its bane. In developing a workflow alone, you have following user interface (UI) choices:

  • Rich client
    Microsoft InfoPath form
    Microsoft Office app
    Browser-based with AJAX
  • Thin client
    InfoPath Form Services
    SharePoint list
    ASP.NET web form

Which one is the best? It varies on your requirements. Another factor that makes SharePoint successful amongst other portals is due to the availability of 3rd party add-ons (just as iPhone with its apps).

With such proliferation of choices, it is necessary for Developers or Analysts to recommend (not make) the best available options to the organization. I say “recommend” here since ultimately, it is the decision of the business managers to make the selection. If you tell them that doing Option A have X consequences and they persist on it due to resource constraints — better make the most it! I’ve learnt well enough by project management (PM) experience that you can achieve successful results, with proper support and better user acceptance I mentioned in earlier post, rather than swimming against the tide.

On a developer perspective, it is much harder to be a geek these days i.e. people with some technical skills can do their own applications and run amok with it. Never has this been more apparent in the corporate environment with the release of SharePoint bundled in Windows Server OS. I’ve seen organizations, creating quick and dirty databases out of SharePoint lists, Microsoft Access, and Excel spreadsheets. Note, dirty here is a result of limited validation available, or not included during design resulting into Garbage-in, Garbage-out. Just a reminder, it is more expensive to repair something if you wait too late in the ballgame, or in our case — deferring sound technical analysis later in development.

Was it a wise choice to hand these to non-developers? Unfortunately, business needs at times trumps the above mentioned principles due to lack of proper technical guidance. As such, treat your development team as a good investment to present these mundane choices more effectively for you. Hopefully, you’ve gained some insights to think about in this blog and I was able to present that such experience count to make informed decisions.


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